If you’re at the grocer staring at a can of sausages, you’re probably asking yourself if they’re safe to eat straight out of the can. AKA, ‘ready-to-eat.’ Or do they need to be cooked?
For those impatient for answers, the answer is: yes, most canned sausages are ready to eat and are safe to consume right away.
I myself do appreciate canned sausages from time to time. I like the convenience they offer, particularly for speeding up a grill.
However, I would never think of them as the centerpiece. Serving canned sausage alone might be a bit sad and not very challenging. Instead, they are a helpful side dish.
With canned sausage, I can get some meat out sooner than later and satisfy some hungry mouths before delivering something a million times more delicious.
Interestingly, canned sausages have been around for a long time and are not as modern as you might think.
They’re usually a form of ready-to-eat sausages or, in some places you may even see them being referred to as RTE sausage.
In this article, we’ll go through all your canned sausage concerns—are they ready to eat, do you need to cook them, are they healthy, and what are they made of?
Can I Eat Canned Sausage Without Cooking?
Technically, canned sausages are cooked and can be eaten directly from the can. However, it’s best to heat them up before eating to improve their taste and texture.
So, if you’ve got nothing else and you’re starving (and perhaps a little lazy to turn on the stove), you can eat them directly from the can.
Let’s also not forget about jarred sausages (which can also be pickled) which are the same, just they come in a jar.
If you’re not sure if a certain brand can be eaten without cooking, check the label—usually it’ll say ‘ready-to-eat.’ Or just ask someone!
Is Canned Sausage Cooked?
Canned sausages are pre-cooked (typically parboiled) during the canning process, which means they are safe to eat without being cooked.
However, reheating them will improve flavor and, more importantly, kill any potential bacteria that may be present.
And, as we said before, they’re going to be a lot more enjoyable to eat warm than cold.
How to Cook Canned Sausages
Cooking canned sausages takes a limited amount of effort which is part of their appeal.
Ready-to-eat canned sausages are great for hotdogs and you’ll probably associate them with Vienna sausages.
Ever bought a hotdog from a hotdog vendor? (Of course you have!) Chances are they were ready-to-eat sausages and may have come from a can!
To cook canned sausages, remove them from the can and heat them in a skillet, oven, microwave, grill, or even in an air fryer. They can be cooked just about anywhere.
When grilling, place them directly on the grill and they’ll be done very quickly.
As soon as you start to see them turn a little dark and the skin begins to rupture, they’re good, but even if they are not that cooked, they are fine to eat.
If you want to use the skillet, you can cook them relatively quickly on medium heat, turning them every so often. You won’t need to pay too much attention to them.
You can also easily cook canned sausage in the oven or microwave pretty quickly. For best results in the oven, make sure you preheat it.
The basic rule is once the sausages are hot, they’re good to eat. It’s that simple.
But some varieties are a little different. You may also come across canned Weisswurst, German white sausage.
Weisswurst should be boiled just long enough for the skin to crack and then they are ready to eat.
So, if you come across any varieties of canned sausage that you’re not familiar with, be sure to check if it needs to be prepared in a certain way.
How to Eat Canned Sausage
Canned sausages can be eaten cold or hot—it’s up to you. You can add canned sausage to a sandwich or even a salad. Or you could just eat it out of the can as a snack.
At barbecues, you’ll definitely be sticking them on the grill for a short while and then you can serve them as is, or stick them in hot dogs.
I often bring some ready-to-eat meat like canned sausage to barbecues just in case. If for whatever embarrassing reason, I can’t get a fire going, you can always eat them as is.
You also don’t have to worry about canned sausage being undercooked. If you place them on the grill, you can give them a nice sear and warm them up, and then serve them.
They’re also good to have if anyone is hungry but the meat is still on the grill. (Anyone with young kids who get all complain-y when they’re hungry will know what I mean.)
If you choose to eat them cold, drain the liquid from the can and rinse the sausages under running water.
Are Canned Sausages Good for You?
While canned sausages are convenient and cheap, they’re usually high in sodium and preservatives, which can be harmful to your health.
No doubt, the presence of preservatives should come as no surprise! How else would they last so long?
But in some settings, those preservatives are a lifesaver—imagine you’re out hiking and want to grill in the middle of nowhere.
If you had bought fresh or frozen meat, maybe it would be spoiled, but canned sausage is made to last. Just open the can and eat them as they are or get a fire going and heat them.
However, you may want to skip out on canned sausages if your doctor is telling you to cut down on the salt.
And some brands may contain low-quality meat, such as mechanically separated chicken or pork. Basically, the factory leftovers.
That’s not too surprising really. They wouldn’t be canning the top-quality meat, would they?
While this isn’t necessarily a health concern, it can make you question what you’re eating. My wife, for example, finds the idea of canned sausages borderline nauseating.
Lastly, don’t make the mistake of thinking that canned sausage will last forever. While they can last a while and don’t have to be refrigerated, they still have use-by dates!
What Is Canned Sausage Made Of?
Canned sausages are made of diverse types of meat, the most common being pork and beef, and some varieties even use chicken. The label should tell you.
They may also contain additional ingredients such as water, salt, spices, and those all-important preservatives.
Read the label on the can to ensure you’re comfortable with the ingredients in your canned sausages.
And it may sound like common sense, but always make sure the can is not damaged, or if it’s a jar of sausages, the top of the jar should pop the first time you open them.